New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Auckland, 3rd day March 24, 2013

Boult, Southee put New Zealand in command

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New Zealand 443 and 35 for 3 (Broad 2-7) lead England (Prior 73, Boult 6-68) by 274 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A fine display of swing bowling from Trent Boult may have struck the decisive blow for New Zealand in an encounter against England full of twists and turns.

Boult, the left-arm fast-medium bowler, claimed 6 for 68 - his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket - as England were dismissed for 204 in their first innings. That gave New Zealand a first innings lead of 239 but, eschewing the chance to enforce the follow-on, they extended their lead to 274 before stumps.

Those second innings runs came at quite a cost, though. New Zealand, perhaps suffering from acrophobia as they realised the dominance of their position, stumbled to 8 for 3 at one stage in their second innings as England revived their slim hopes of forcing a win. Peter Fulton and Dean Brownlie saw New Zealand to the close without further loss, but New Zealand's lack of progress raised questions about the wisdom of not enforcing the follow-on.

Still, Boult's performance had earned his side an excellent chance of securing a rare Test series win over England. New Zealand remain the side in the stronger position, and with the pitch showing just a little sign of uneven bounce, it may not be easy to bat upon on the last day. No side has ever scored 350 in the fourth innings to win on this ground - though West Indies chased down 345 to win in 1969 - and, since they introduced drop-in pitches at Eden Park just over a decade ago, no side has ever chased more than the 166 Australia managed in 2005. Besides, without Kevin Pietersen, England appear a far more diffident side.

For a team dismissed as no-hopers by some commentators coming into the series, this has been an impressive performance by New Zealand. They are currently rated No. 8 in the Test rankings, but they have looked the better side for significant portions of this encounter and now have an excellent opportunity to embarrass the No. 2 rated team. New Zealand have previously only beaten England at home in one Test series, in 1983-84, and away in two, in 1986 and in 1999.

The pitch showed no signs of deterioration for most of the day. It is simply that New Zealand's seamers bowled a little fuller, a little straighter and gained a little more swing than England had on the first couple of days. In short, New Zealand bowled better than England's much-vaunted attack. Bruce Martin, who came into this series largely unknown outside New Zealand, generated turn and bounce that Monty Panesar, his left-arm counterpart, could not and, as a result, looked a far more threatening proposition.

Even in New Zealand's second innings, England could find minimal swing. New Zealand lost their wickets more to nerves than swing and Boult, bowling with decent pace, maintaining a tight line and managing to swing some back into the right-hand batsmen and angle some across them, was the most dangerous bowler on display. He was able to find movement that even James Anderson could not.

It was during the first session of the day that New Zealand hammered a nail into England's hopes. Generating swing, they claimed three lbw decisions in the session to leave England teetering on 72 for 5 at one stage.

Tim Southee made the breakthrough in the third over of the morning. Having generally swung the ball away from the right-handed batsmen, natural variation resulted in one going straight on and striking Nick Compton on the pad. While the umpire, Paul Reiffel, declined the original appeal on the grounds that the ball may well have hit the bat before hitting the pad, New Zealand were quick to call for a review that showed that the ball had made first contact with the pad.

Ian Bell went in similar fashion. Bell, who had come close to running himself out in the second over of the day, diving to regain his ground after committing to an unnecessarily risky second run, was also undone by one that went straight on from Southee. Perhaps intimidated by the aggressive field utilised by New Zealand captain, Brendon McCullum - there were times when New Zealand's seamers had five slips - Bell looked unwilling to commit to playing at the ball and was caught in the crease when struck on the pad. He conferred with his batting partner, Joe Root, before deciding not to utilise the Decision Review System. It was a wise decision.

Boult, who had claimed the two wickets to fall the previous evening, claimed the final wicket of the session, beating Jonny Bairstow's tentative forward prod with one that pitched on middle stump and swung back just enough to beat the stroke. Again, the original appeal was declined but New Zealand utilised the DRS and were rewarded for their confidence. If Bairstow had looked somewhat out of form, it was hardly a surprise: this was his first innings in first-class cricket since the Mumbai Test in November and only his second since the Lord's Test in August.

Only two men offered meaningful resistance for England. Matt Prior and Joe Root added 101 runs for the sixth wicket, with Prior counterattacking fluently and Root defending with obduracy that would have had his Yorkshire predecessor Geoff Boycott smiling in satisfaction.

Whereas his colleagues prodded timidly - Compton's 13 runs occupied only two minutes fewer than two hours and England scored just 42 runs in 29 overs before lunch - Prior skipped down the pitch to drive Martin through the off side and when given any width from the seamers, freed his arms to drive through the covers.

His strength was his undoing, however. Offered some width from Neil Wagner, Prior attempted to drive on the up but could only slice a thick edge to point.

Dean Brownlie could be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief. Brownlie, at slip, had reprieved Prior on 24 when the batsman had pushed hard at one outside off stump from the deserving Southee and edged low to Brownlie's right. Had the chance been taken, England would have been 111 for 6.

Prior's dismissal precipitated a swift decline. England lost their last five wickets for just 31 runs as Boult, armed with the new ball, returned to mop up the tail. Stuart Broad, now little more than a happy slogger, thrashed 14 in three balls but, in attempting to force the next delivery, sliced a catch to short extra cover before Steven Finn prodded at one angled across him. Anderon edged a beauty that left him, and Root, left with only Panesar for company, attempted to thrash a good length ball over midwicket and lost his off stump.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 64blip on March 24, 2013, 23:51 GMT

    Follow on? What were the chances NZ would be bowled out before setting a highly improbable target? Plenty of time left, give the bowlers a rest. If England can bat out a draw they deserve it.

  • dummy4fb on March 24, 2013, 23:16 GMT

    @ JG2704 on (March 24, 2013, 18:48 GMT)> following on in modern times is inherently risky (unless on a spinners' paradise) because of better batting tracks. NZ would have risked England POTENTIALLY scoring big against a tiring NZ attack, then face a potentially tricky middling total themselves, ie: PRESSURE.

    Far better now for NZ to bat again (as they are doing) under far less pressure, and dictate the pace of the game. Look at Fulton hitting out - no pressure, so he is going for it. NZ can set a target at their leisure, and by making it impossible for England to score the runs, put incredible pressure on England (rather than on themselves) whose only motivation is survival.

  • millsack on March 24, 2013, 23:04 GMT

    maybe englands not really that bad, and this new zealand team is actually one of the best in the world?? ive been preaching for a long time we are better than we get credit for, when we can actually put a full strength team on the field. the problem is such a small cricket nation cant expect to have any depth.

  • dummy4fb on March 24, 2013, 22:59 GMT

    As a Kiwi who has seen the Aussies demolish his own team and the other teams around the world time and time again; I would say underestimate them at your peril. Give them a sniff and they will destroy you. Everyone knows that they get a little bit more fired up for the ashes. So go on England, underestimate them like you underestimated us....

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on March 24, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    @Hira1 (post on March 24, 2013, 17:16 GMT): so if the guy that has produced 85 runs at 28 for the series thus far had been playing, things would be different eh? JG2704 has already said everything I would've written.

  • jb633 on March 24, 2013, 20:40 GMT

    Excellent from New Zeland and truly pathetic from our guys. Why is Bairstow in ahead of James Taylor. Taylor has a tecnique fit for test cricket rather than the hit and giggle stuff that Bairstow likes.

  • chugster on March 24, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    As an England fan i am naturally dissapointed by the display in NZ. We have some issues in the batting and feel we are at times naive and even yes cocky! However series like these are happening more and more often across the world.ONLY SA can claim to be able to beat anyone on any surface these days as the standard of test cricket is dropping off in a slightly worrying fashion. England have looked a mixture of tired,bored and have had a few injuries,this coupled with NZ playing really well and being the better side has led to where we are now. They dont look up for it in short....in India they did and to all you Indian fans who have just beat the WORST aus side to travel to India EVER.Please remember England gave your boys a real beating in you own back yard on turning pitches having lost the toss 3 times and being 1-0 down.Pipe down and enjoy having beaten the Aussies as England (despite their issues) will in the summer. I look forward SA ripping India to shreds in nov/dec.

  • JG2704 on March 24, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    @Kane_Williamson_... ps - obviously BM may have consulted with the bowlers who said they wanted a break , in which case that's fair enough

  • in_the_v on March 24, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    I think too many people are being too harsh on Eng batsmen, when I dont think many other batting sides would have been any more successful against that pretty good bowling display. Big balancing act for Baz now tho, bat for too long = not enough time to bowl Eng out. Get to many runs = Eng wont go for win & bat out draw. Jeepers who would have thought this four months ago when NZC was in turmoil

  • JG2704 on March 24, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    @Hira1 -Eng basically lost #1 when KP was in the side.Ok officially they didn't lose the #1 til after the 3rd SA test but the cushion they had after beating India was erased in UAE where KP was only outdone in patheticness by Bell. Yes KP(with Swann and Jimmys bowling which always get overlooked)saved us vs SL and his inns vs SA was also a potential match saving/winning inns but of the 2 defeats to SA Eng were much closer in the 3rd test(in KPs absence) than in the 1st test when KP played. Jonny scored 95&54 in that test (ave 4.50)& while KP may have done better74.50 is 50% better than KP's average.Not saying JB is a better batsman-of course not-but how can you tell whether the KP who was so awful in the UAE&1st Ind test or the one who was so brilliant vs SA/SL 2nd tests will turn up? Saying Eng lost the ranking because KP wasn't there is like saying a football team lost a GAME when they took a certain player off depite being 4 goals down at the time the he was substituted

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